'Southgate has given us freedom' - Lingard expects England to play without fear

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The Manchester United forward is happy to be the joker in the Three Lions pack as a young squad seek to free themselves of any pressure

England will "play without fear" at the World Cup thanks to the mentality of manager Gareth Southgate, according to Jesse Lingard.

Southgate and his 23-man squad are preparing to play their opening fixture in the tournament on Monday, when they take on Group G rivals Tunisia in Volgograd.

England will also come up against Belgium and Panama, with Lingard insisting the players are not feeling the weight of expectation as they aim to secure just a second major trophy.

The Manchester United forward has put that down to Southgate, who has given the green light for his team to express themselves on the biggest stage in Russia.

"Southgate has come in with the mentality to play with freedom, play without fear, and you will enjoy your time more," Lingard told the media.

"So, as a group of players, that is what we are going to do - enjoy our football, play with no fear and play exciting football at the same time.

"Of course, we want to go all the way to the final, but we are going to take each game as it comes and prepare for each game as we normally do."

Lingard's role is not just restricted to being active on the pitch, however, as he has also quickly become the joker in the camp.

The 25-year-old - who was sparingly used in England's qualifying campaign but has become a more central figure in the last nine months - is always keen to lighten the mood, believing it will help aid performances on the pitch.

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“It’s in my character [to be a joker]. It’s the way I've been brought up by my family," he added.

"It helps around the camp. It's always good to have a happy camp.

"I don't really play pranks as such. I'm there for the spirit of the camp to get everyone going, to get them all happy."

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